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The perfect honey cake recipe for the Jewish New Year

BY Miriam Sallon

20th Sep 2022 Recipes

The perfect honey cake recipe for the Jewish New Year
Rosh Hashanah or no, a generous slice of honey cake served with a strong cup of coffee is the perfect fix for autumn blues
Despite the Jewish New Year always coming at a strange time in the Gregorian calendar—somewhere around mid-September to early October (September 25-27 this year)—it feels like it marks an important change and the beginning of something.
The leaves are falling, summer is fading, and it’s time to get serious about your plans for the future. The New Year, or Rosh Hashanah, is both a time for solemn reflection about the past year and hope for the year ahead.
We wish each other “Shana tova u’metuka”, a year of goodness and sweetness. Perhaps most important of all, we eat lots and lots of honey cake to mark the beginning of such a sweet new year.
"We wish each other 'Shana tova u’metuka', a year of goodness and sweetness"
The honey cake I grew up with is made with orange juice and coffee, and left to rest for a day or two to get really sticky and moist in the centre.
I can’t be trusted to make a cake and leave it on the side untouched, so instead I make this with sour cream to give it that characteristically moist crumb. I’ve also added a glaze to cheat my way to a slightly stickier cake, and it does the job beautifully.
A couple of tips before you start:
  • The darker the honey, the tastier the cake. I don’t know the science behind it, it’s just true.
  • I’ve listed vanilla extract, but I often switch it out for orange or almond extract, depending on the kind of honey I’m using, and what I’ve got to hand. It’s all tasty, so whatever pleases you.


For the cake:
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 320g dark honey
  • 120g butter, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125g sour cream
For the glaze:
  • 70g honey
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
To serve (optional):
Leftover sour cream, leftover honey, and a drop of vanilla extract, all mixed to taste.


  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C (155°C fan), and line a 20cm round cake tin.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients together.
  3. In a large bowl, combine honey and butter, and beat until light and smooth.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the sour cream and vanilla extract.
  5. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean, and set aside to cool for five minutes in the tin.
  6. For the glaze, add all ingredients to a pan on medium-low heat until the butter is melted.
  7. Bring to a low simmer for three minutes, then set aside to cool slightly and thicken.
  8. Place the cake on a rack with a tray underneath, pour half the glaze evenly over the top and wait until it’s sunk in a little.
  9. Then pour or spoon over the remaining glaze, and leave the cake to cool. Serve with a generous blob of sweetened sour cream and a strong cup of coffee.

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